Food & Drink

Ro’s Recipes: Madeira Squash Soup

Welcome, winter.

Open your arms to leaf litter, scuffed snow-dust and windy willow wisps! Winter is dropping hints of arrival. She is blustering beneath the billow of drafty skirts and stone-set clumps of earth.

It’s OK. The crops are in. The livestock are sheltered in barns. The farmer’s markets are bulging and piled with hard skinned vegetables, clumped in all their misshapen bulbous, engorged, rooty generosity.

As you walk through the aisles of the market — farmer or super allow winter to seduce you with late autumn’s bounty: apple glory galore, pumpkins, beauty beets and squashes of all shapes, sizes, colors and density.

Allow winter to insinuate her skills into your menu to warm the soft spots between your ears, ribs and toes.

 

MADEIRA SQUASH SOUP

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Yield:  10 portions

Equipment: Large sheet trays, measuring spoons and cups, vegetable peeler, fine grater or rasp, large casserole with lid, metal spatula, rubber spatula, food processor, blender, tamis sieve, sauté pan, metal tongs, medium bowl, soup ladle.

Ingredients:
6 squash, washed and halved or quartered depending on size (to yield 6 cup puree)
3¼ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6½ tablespoons Madeira (or add 6½ tablespoons of golden raisins rehydrated in ¾ cup of boiling water to soup with the chicken stock)

3¼ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped, peeled carrots
1 stalk celery, chopped
2½ teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 bay leaf, preferably Turkish

2 quarts chicken broth
3¼ tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1¼ teaspoons sugar

Water to taste to thin soup to right consistency

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush clean, cut squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle liberally with Madeira. Place squash on large sheet tray. Cover with tin foil. Bake until tender, one to one and a half hours. Scrape flesh into large bowl. Scrape juices and residue from tray into bowl with spatula.

While the squash are roasting, heat a large casserole. Add olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add chopped onions. Sweat covered for five minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic. Sweat covered until onions are translucent and beginning to turn golden. Add bay leaves. Add squash puree and any pan residue and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, herbs and spices. Under moderate heat, bring casserole to a boil, turn down the heat to moderate low and cook covered until all the vegetables are tender. Taste for seasoning.

Cool before pureeing. Puree in small batches in food processor. For really fine result, transfer to blender and puree and then transfer to tamis sieve discarding the remainder in the sieve.

To serve, reheat the soup gently in a large pot. Ladle soup into warmed bowls.

 

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